The Birthday Sessions: The 2013 Spring Playlist, Vol. 1

For those of you planning to hunt for Easter eggs or soak up the season premiere of Game of Thrones this Sunday, please save a sliver of your time to help me celebrate another year on this planet.

Food and drink will be had, but if you know me, it's all about the music.

Here are just some of the jams that I will be blaring throughout my special weekend as I geek out down at WonderCon in Anaheim, consume copious amounts of junk food on Saturday night, and get reasonably sloshed on Sunday afternoon while surrounded by loved ones.

1. "Natalie" by Bruno Mars

2. "Chocolate" by The 1975:



3. "Rhythm of the Night" by Bastille

4. "Remix (I Like The)" by New Kids On The Block

5. "I Was A Fool" by Tegan and Sara

6. "Blank Page" by Christina Aguilera

7. "Here It Comes" by Emeili Sande:



8. "Sweet Love" by Jess Mills

9. "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake

10. "Chemistry" by Eva Simons

11. "Entertainment" by Phoenix

12. "My Heart Is Refusing Me" by Loreen:



13. "A Tattered Line of String" by The Postal Service

14. "Miracle" by Hurts

15. "Rose Rouge" by St. Germain

16. "I Look To You" by Miami Horror feat. Kimbra

17. "Party Over" by Amelia Lily

18. "Never Should Have" by Ashanti

19. "Army of Two" by Olly Murs

20. "I Could Be The One" by Avicii feat. Nicky Romero

As usual, you sample every track over on my Spotify page.

@TheFirstEcho


'White House Down': The Roland Emmerich Movie Trailer Formula

After yesterday's historic and opinionated events, let's get back to some fluff, shall we?

The trailer for the Channing Tatum-Jamie Foxx action-thriller, White House Down, has debuted this week, and if you're a fan of Roland Emmerich's tentpole films (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), I'm sure you'll be salivating over this one.

Washington D.C. gets attacked, and it's up to one man, a former secret service agent (Tatum), to protect the POTUS (Foxx) and save the day.

No, this isn't a reboot of this month's Olympus Has Fallen.

For all you trailer junkies out there, you may have noticed a formula regarding the previews for Emmerich's films. Step 1: Open with news soundbites of reporters announcing Something Big going down. Step 2: Reveal an iconic shot that will establish what we're dealing with. Step 3: Bring down the noise considerably so we can gather our thoughts and feel the tension mounting. Step 4: Remind us who Roland Emmerich actually is. Step 5: Cut to a series of well-paced shots of familiar faces. Step 6: Show that our hero must race against time to set things right...while embracing someone he loves. Step 7: Close out with more shit blowing up, this time accompanied by a minimalist score. Voila.

Now go ahead and YouTube the trailer to 2012 and tell me I'm not crazy.



@TheFirstEcho


In Response To The Symbols Opposing The Red Equality Signs

Regarding the red crucifixes and other symbols that are starting to pop up across Facebook (luckily I have yet to see one of my "friends" use it, and I choose not to share it here)...

Those who have set this opposing symbol as their profile picture have the right to do so because they live in a country that allows them the privilege to express their beliefs. However, they also continue to define an institution within a religious context with religious terms (granted, it's hard not to). Therefore I can't help but rightfully express my own frustration over the fact that this same institution is continually governed by such religions when our own government was created in a way so that these organized belief systems do not interfere with how the law is laid down. (Three words, kids: Separation. Church. State.) Crack open a history book and look up John Locke: the man was all about ruling with an "individual conscience" and reminding people that "faith is independent of reason."

In short, let's be reasonable, America.

Stepping down from the communal soapbox for the next proud American in line,

@TheFirstEcho


If 'Happy Endings' Gets Canceled, My Heart Will Shrivel Up And Die


Actually, it would be like watching my best friends drive off a cliff in a party bus while I'm tied to a tree, helpless and screaming for them to be saved.



ABC, don't murder my friends.

@TheFirstEcho


Anatomy of a Series Finale: CBS's 'Partners' Tapes Its Last Episode

It's the night before Thanksgiving, and I'm on the set of CBS's cancelled sitcom Partners, the latest creation from Will & Grace masterminds Max Mutchnick and David Kohan. Stars Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), David Krumholtz (Numb3rs), and Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill) stand in a fake but awesomely decorated living room, glancing at each other and taking it all in, because this is the last time they'll be on this stage, reading from these scripts, and working with this crew.

It's the nature of the beast that is the television business.

It's like the last day of summer camp: the fun festivities come to an end, new friends are forced to go their separate ways, and no one knows what the next several months will bring.

I'm guilty of being one of those viewers who tuned in for the first couple of episodes of this promising new show. The ensemble was great and charismatic to the nth degree. But unfortunately, shit like this happens in Hollywood; every project is a gamble, and you've got to chalk it up to an it-was-fun-while-it-lasted mentality.

The warm-up guy, a comedian whose name I already forget, attempts to pump up the crowd with his stand-up schtick. Out-of-towners are identified (and ridiculed), jokes about the upcoming holiday are made, and the studio audience is treated to a montage of the show's highlights from its short-lived season. An unseen tech guy in a sound booth blares Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," an ironic musical choice given that dozens and dozens of people will be out of work once this taping ends.

Sitcom veteran James Burrows (Jimmy to those who've been blessed to work with him) sits in his director's chair, several feet away from the group of writers that huddle around an assistant who is feverishly typing away on his MacBook, adding the necessary revisions to a script that is constantly being tweaked, even as the show goes on. Punchlines are tightened, words are deleted, and dialogue is swapped.

Soon enough, boxes of pizza arrive for a hungry audience. It's no turkey and stuffing, but it will do. Bottles of water get passed around, and appetites are temporarily appeased. By the time I'm handed a skinny slice, it has cooled off considerably, and I devour it while sitting in my "VIP" seat -- courtesy of the superfabulous Jackie Feibel and her wondrous ways.

Once the final scene is shot and the last "That's a wrap!" is called out, the audience breaks out into applause. Tears are shed. The cast embrace each other and wave to the crowd.

It's a bittersweet affair.

Soon enough, I make my way down to the studio floor and walk onto the set with the rest of the cast and crew's guests. I'm reintroduced to Michael Urie, an alumnus of the charity event I worked on for three years (remember Hot In Hollywood?), and I congratulate him on a job well done. He's still caked with make-up. I can tell he's trying to keep up with the chaos around him; people call his name, hands are shaken. A lot is going on.

I say my goodbyes and then make my way towards Brandon Routh, who wipes a few tears from his eyes. I thank him for taking the time to shoot with Bello Mag last summer (he had been the first cover story I had written for the publication back in May). He sniffles in between his words, and I see how emotional he is. "You'll have to excuse me," he says, laughing. "I'm like a mess!" I tell him it's understandable and proceed to ask him for a photo. The dude is tall and still has the build of a college linebacker.

I take in this small slice of television history around me. I admire the set design, secretly wishing I could take a memento home with me, and before I make my exit, I think to myself:

I have Superman's tears on my shoulder.

@TheFirstEcho


Help Free Tilda Swinton From Her Glass Prison At The MoMA

The art world, particularly the Museum of Modern Art in New York, got a huge boost in publicity recently when Tilda Swinton unveiled her art installation in which she...sleeps in a glass case.

Interpret it however you like -- and feel free to take a picture with the slumbering Oscar winner if you're in the Tri-State area this week.

In the meantime, I'm going to take this opportunity to meme it up in support of the actress's brave endeavor with this mock t-shirt.

I think it would match nicely with a black blazer and jeans, don't you?

@TheFirstEcho


Theme Song of the Month: March & April 2013

To all of my fellow early pop adopters out there, you should feel justified now that Kelly Clarkson & Co. will be releasing "People Like Us" as an official single.

The track was buried underneath the songs featured on her Greatest Hits album that came out last fall. Those who checked out this bonus tune were immediately sucked into its empowering and anthemic sensibilty. Just how epically awesome is it? I'm labeling it as my theme song for two (2!) months. True, I've been jamming to it since December, but it's one of those songs that just gets better the more you play it.

"People Like Us" (not to be confused as a theme song for last summer's Chris Pine-Elizabeth Banks dramedy) opens with a pretty bold declaration, and from there, it blows up with lyrics about "turning it up louder when the flames get higher," "keeping your head up," and joining forces to conquer a "world on fire."

Just listen:


Some of you may be quick to call it a "Firework"/"Born This Way" rip-off, but at least it's an ambitious one. Besides, we need one of its kind on the radio in 2013. There's only so many times I can listen to Rihanna and The Lumineers.

@TheFirstEcho


I Was In A Room With Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman & Angela Bassett

This past Monday I had the privilege of being invited to a small press conference for Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Rick Yune, Angela "Lookin' Fine" Bassett, and Dylan "Hot for 51" McDermott.

All six actors, including director Antoine Fuqua, were all in attendance at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. I was seated in the second row, ten feet away from a line-up of talent that was, needless to say, awe-inspiring.

Truly awe-inspiring was Ms. Bassett. The woman looked flawless, not having aged a day since What's Love Got To Do With It.

My interview piece is up and running over at Hotter In Hollywood (yep, I'm still running that ship too). And my actual review of the film can be found HERE.

Enjoy.

@TheFirstEcho


7 Awesomely Bad TV Reunion Movies You Probably Forgot About


TV reunion movies are a thing of the past.

Nowadays TV shows (and their cast of characters) are either revived as an overblown summer tentpole (Sex and the City), a complete reboot for "a new generation" (90210, Melrose Place, Dallas), a streaming-only series for Netflix subscribers (Arrested Development), or a Kickstarter-fueled major motion picture (Veronica Mars). Gone are the days when networks could pump out a TV movie-of-the-week, usually during sweeps, and bring beloved characters back to the small screen for some kind of momentous occasion.

Hence why I've been waxing nostalgic on several made-for-TV reunion movies that capitalized on my fondness for the past. From the ages of 8 to 14, I shamelessly lived for this crap, and now I grieve for the format because it appears to be on the brink of total extinction (thanks 21st century). However, back then, not all reunions were perfect as you'll see below...

1. A Very Brady Christmas (1988) - TV's most functional blended family returned in a CBS special that brought everyone home for the holidays. Jan's a yuppie! Bobby's a loser! And Alice breaks the record for longest-running live-in maid in America! This reunion struck ratings gold, prompting the network to pick up The Bradys in 1990, which attempted to turn the beloved sitcom into an hour-long dramedy with "adult issues." MISSING ORIGINAL CAST MEMBER: Susan Olsen (Cindy).

2. Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion (1987) - The Bradford clan came together -- just in time for sweeps -- in this overly sentimental mishmosh of melodrama that went up against Game 2 in the World Series but drew in millions of curious viewers. Thus why we got the 1989 sequel, An Eight is Enough Wedding. MISSING ORIGINAL CAST MEMBER: Betty Buckley (apparently she was filming Frantic with Harrison Ford at the time).

3. The Facts of Life Reunion (2001) - A widowed Mrs. Garrett ditches her cruise ship director boyfriend to go spend Thanksgiving with her "girls" in Peekskill. Blair owns a chain of hotels, Natalie's a CNN producer, and Tootie's a poor man's Wendy Williams. MISSING ORIGINAL CAST MEMBER: Notably absent was Jo (shame on you, Nancy McKeon). But at least the helmet doesn't fall far from the motorcycle: Jo's daughter Jamie shows up to join the rest of the cast in this painfully corny but pleasurable TV movie, one of the last of its kind.

Have an inappropriate laugh at the 1:12 mark:


4. Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac (1997) - Four years after going off the air in a series finale that saw resident bitch Abby Fairgate-Cunningham-Sumner-Ewing return to the neighborhood, CBS brought back America's favorite pre-Desperate Housewives suburbanites in a miniseries that tried to recapture the magic of the glorious prime-time soap that ran for an astounding 14 seasons. MISSING ORIGINAL CAST MEMBER: Actress Kathleen Noone (Claudia Whittaker) was probably too busy shooting NBC's daytime drama Sunset Beach at the time.
Check out the opening two minutes which explain why Nicollette Sheridan, who gave in to producer demands and did a last-minute cameo, doesn't appear in the rest of this 4-hour-long telepic:
 

5. A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion
 (1993) - This fifth of six reunion movies jumped ahead in time to the 1960s, leaving a gaping hole in plot logistics. The children of the Virginia clan have grown up, times continue to be rough, and there's plenty of cheese to make audiences lactose-intolerant.

6. Dynasty: The Reunion (1991) - Rich white folk betray, bedhop and bitchslap each other with relish. Sure, this worked in the glitzy 80s, but in the early 90s when America found itself in deep debt and was going through a Recession? Not so much. This miniseries tried to tie up the loose ends that were left in the 1989 series finale, but some, to the dismay of die-hards, weren't even addressed. Fail.

7. Dallas: J.R. Returns (1996) - Presumed to have died in 1991's final episode (he didn't commit suicide after all), J.R. Ewing schemes and seduces his way through Texas -- and Europe this time. All the events that took place here and in the sequel, War of the Ewings, were ignored in TNT's current reboot. Maybe it was all a dream just like that infamous season 9.

Now, who's ready for A Parenthood Reunion and Brothers and Sisters: The Homecoming in 2025?

@TheFirstEcho


10 TV Shows In Need a Kickstarter-Fueled Comeback

Now that the cast and creator of Veronica Mars have succeeded in reaching — and surpassing — their goal of raising a cool $2 million to produce and shoot a big-screen adaptation of the cult TV drama (with its original cast!), the inevitable is upon us: dozens and dozens of Kickstarter campaigns thinking they can raise a crapload of money and flood people’s inboxes and news feeds with donation requests. For anyone living in Los Angeles, this may sound familiar with friends who seem to work on a new independent project every other month.

This recent and growing phenomenon brings up a lot of talking points and demonstrates how powerful and influential a singular fanbase can be. It also proves that it doesn’t hurt to have a few solid connections in Tinseltown; according to some naysayers, the rate at which the Veronica Mars funds came pouring in is a little too crazy to be true.

Regardless, this slice of pop culture goodness has gotten me excited for the revival of everyone’s favorite plucky blonde detective…and has made me wonder about other TV shows that deserve a similar second chance in movie theaters.

Check out my dream list of TV shows that could use a big cinematic comeback over at ScreenPicks.


I Need a 'Veronica Mars' Movie Like I Need My Coffee (Now)

Geek dreams do come true.

If this indeed happens, and $2 million buckaroos are indeed raised to produce this fan-fueled project, I will be one happy marshmallow. A feature-film adaptation of Veronica Mars, a cult TV show about a highly resourceful and plucky detective? With the original cast? It's possible. And for you fellow fanatics out there, if the money is raised, Warner Bros. will cover the marketing costs. If that isn't enough incentive, then slap me silly and call me Wallace Fennel (who's noticeably absent in the below presentation).

Not only is this the biggest Kickstarter goal for a movie, this is also one of the best Kickstarter videos I've ever seen:


@TheFirstEcho


'Jurassic Park' Turns 20: A Look Back At One Of The Movies That Changed My Life

On the night before my 7th grade class trip to the Norwalk Aquarium in Connecticut, I saw a movie that would leave an impression on me for rest of my life...

June 10, 1993 was a Thursday. My mother worked late nights on Thursdays, and my 13-year-old self was determined to catch one of the preview screenings of the new Steven Spielberg blockbuster, Jurassic Park, "an adventure 65 millions years in the making." I called up my local theaters to see what showtimes were available -- remember, this was before MovieFone and those convenient movie ticket apps -- and tracked down a 10pm showing at Bay Plaza's General Cinemas in the Bronx, a swift 12-minute drive from the southern banks of New Rochelle.

With my dad away at a business dinner, I waited for my mother to come home from work, and exhausted as she might have been, she was up for taking me to the late screening on a school night. We hopped in her Pontiac 6000-LE and trekked down to the Bronx where we waited in line, nabbed some tickets, and munched on concession stand hot dogs that were probably half the price of what they go for now. And popcorn. Because what summer blockbuster event would be complete without it?

I guess I would liken my Jurassic Park experience to those who saw Star Wars for the first time in theaters back in 1977. This was the first moviegoing experience that had a profound effect on me. The moment that fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex appeared on screen and started chowing down on the tires of that green-and-yellow Ford Explorer (with kids inside!), my heart stopped, my hands turned to ice, and my butt cheeks never clenched so tightly.


Not only was I kept in suspense, I was in awe. This was me, and millions of other moviegoers, witnessing the birth of advanced computer-generated technology in cinema perfectly blending with expert storytelling and direction. If Jaws heralded the arrival of the summer blockbuster in 1975, then Jurassic Park propelled it to new heights 18 years later, injecting it with a strong dose of adrenaline and wonderment.

Everything else conspired together to make one hell of a film. Raptor attacks! An ultra-tense game of hide-and-seek inside a kitchen! Dr. Ian Malcolm's chaos theory! Shaving cream decoys! That "one big pile of shit"! Lawyer jokes!

During the summer of '93 I was a 13-year-old obsessed. Hours of childhood fantasy scenarios were made manifest courtesy of the dream team that was Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg. I collected the trading cards, I snatched up the comic book (hmm, I wonder how much it would go for now...), I taped the poster above my bed at sleepaway camp (another story for another time), and I purchased any entertainment magazine that featured those famous dinos on the cover (anyone remember Starlog?). Besides Titanic, it was the only film I've ever paid to see in a theater three times (c'mon, like you aren't guilty of doing the same). And I have no shame in it whatsoever.

You could also say it was a perfect storm of pop culture consumerism and the beginnings of my infatuation with pop culture itself. Jurassic Park represents the first time I became consumed by something.

When it was released on VHS the following year, I ran all the way to Woolworth's on Main Street and peered into the glass cabinet of videotapes, knowing I would get my chubby hands on a copy that was going for a then-staggering $29.95. I watched it over and over, picking up on small details I never noticed before and still feeling bad for "the fat guy who got spat on by that Dilophosaurus."

Needless to say, I plan on shelling out a now-staggering $17 to go see the 20th anniversary 3D version of the film next month.


What's truly great about this epic adventure is its sheer timelessness. Nearly every moment, every scene, is iconic in its own right. The movie balances thrills, humor, and poignant human drama in a way that's rare to find in what passes for blockbuster entertainment at the multiplex 20 years later. John Williams's score, to this day, still gives me goosebumps...and brings a tear to my eye every time that helicopter lifts off and leaves the island.

If you haven't realized it by now, Jurassic Park remains on my list of Top 10 All-Time Favorite Movies, and the above post should explain why.

It's funny. I write this weeks after riding Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, which happened to break down halfway through...

Luckily no tourists were eaten.

@TheFirstEcho


Why 'Smash' Reminds Me of the 1994 Disaster That Was 'Models Inc.'


Call me crazy, but Smash reminds me a lot of the one-season wonder that was Fox's Models Inc (1994-95). You know, that Aaron Spelling sudser about a group of attractive people dealing with first-world problems in post-Recession times? It was created in an attempt to prolong the soapy high left by the guiltiest of 90s guilty pleasures, Melrose Place.

One could argue that NBC's Smash was created in a similar fashion, as a network's attempt to capitalize on a trend, the TV musical, one that was sparked by that shiny happy franchise known as Glee (and look at that, it's on Fox).

Both shows have gone through some sizable tweaking (showrunner switcheroos!) to rejuvenate storylines and ramp up ratings. And so far, it isn't working for the NBC showtuner, just like it didn't work for that pretty piece of Clinton-era trash starring a post-Dallas Linda Gray. While Fox had the patience to stick it out with Models for an impressive 32 episodes, NBC looks like it's currently doing the same with Smash's second season, which would, by the end of its run, bring it up to roughly the same amount of episodes.

But the comparisons don't end there.

Halfway through its run, Models Inc. brought on an African-American beauty by the name of Garcelle Beauvais in what was most likely a bid to up the drama's diversity quota. Smash brought on an African-American singer by the name of Jennifer Hudson in what was most likely a bid to up the drama's diversity and Oscar winner quota.

Big-name guest stars were also brought in to pique viewer interest on both shows. Models saw the casting of Emma Samms as Grayson Louder, a troublesome, presumed-dead woman who stirred the pot with everyone at the agency. Smash introduced Rebecca Duvall, a presumably sober actress who stirred the pot with everyone in the musical-within-the-musical. Who played her? None other than Uma Thurman.

Then there was resident bad girl Julie Dante (Kylie Travis), who attempted to increase the bitch factor on the mid-90s sudser. However, by the end of the show's run, she went through a transformation in which she ultimately became a chick you rooted for, finding the man of her dreams -- as well as a soul. The same can be said for Megan Hilty's Ivy on the NBC musical. The first dozen episodes saw her as a whiny rival of Katharine McPhee's Karen, conniving and sleeping her way to the top. Now? She's a misunderstood and slightly sympathetic doll who just wants to shine in any spotlight that will have her.

Models Inc. was pure TV junk food disguised as a glossy luxury item that didn't really have a clear mission statement -- or an endgame. Smash, while it pretends to have an endgame (the debut of Bombshell on Broadway), is still a glamorous piece of storytelling that's all surface and not much filling. That doesn't mean both of these shows are completely unwatchable. On the contrary, there's something delectable about observing the trials and tribulations of a group of privileged people who complain about their "hardships" and dilemmas while the rest of us are faced with challenges that are much scarier than the typical what-song-will-we-write-for-the-opening-number? conundrums the characters on Smash seem to face every. Friggin'. Week.

As disastrous as Smash may be, I will continue to the enjoy the hell out of it while it lasts...because you know it won't.

Which only leaves me with the following: my apologies to Debra Messing, who's been having a hard time landing a post-Will and Grace series that will last more than two seasons. (The Starter Wife anyone?)

Don't worry, girl. It gets better.

@TheFirstEcho


All Kinds of Awesome: New Kids On The Block and...Shakespeare?


This week delivered some pleasant surprises in the viral world. First up is the new music video from New Kids On The Block. It's for "Remix (I Like The)," the first single from their forthcoming new album. The video perfectly encapsulates what every female fan in her 30s must feel like whenever the iPod randomly shuffles to "The Right Stuff." It's a fantastic (and empowering) nod to nostalgia and should become an anthem for all wallflowers. And the song? It kind of kicks ass. Who frickin' knew?



Then there's the unparalleled awesomeness of Joss Whedon. Yesterday the Buffy creator released the trailer for his contemporary, black-and-white adaptation of the Bard's Much Ado About Nothing, which features nearly every actor who has ever appeared on his TV shows (Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly). In other words, Wesley and Fred alert!



And if you're wondering, that sexy song is courtesy of "Rose Rouge" by St. Germain.

@TheFirstEcho


8 Excuses Actors Give to Explain Their Film Role Choices (and What They Really Mean)

I've been attending press junkets, interviewing actors, and reviewing movies on a regular basis now for the past two years, and there's only so many questions about an actor's reason for choosing a role that you can ask. But it comes with the territory. Inquiring minds want to know, and soon you'll find yourself hearing the same responses over and over until you feel like hurling the digital recorder across the room, storming out of the hospitality suite, and screaming, "I'm done with this business!"

Here are eight typical answers I've heard repeated at various press events...as well as my interpretation of each soundbite.

Feel free to match famous names with any of the following:

1. "The director. I'm such a huge fan of his films. I've always wanted to work with him." TRANSLATION: I needed to clean up my tarnished reputation after TMZ caught me on a bender in West Hollywood, and this guy's filmmaking pedigree is just what I needed.

2. "I always thought there was more to the story that needed to be told." TRANSLATION: The studio had me nailed down for at least two sequels. Besides, they promised me a 20% increase in my fee with each movie. Score!

3. "I always found his/her life story to be so fascinating. He/she contributed so much to our society, and I really wanted people to see a side of him/her no one really knew about." TRANSLATION: A biopic? Give me that damn Oscar!

3. "The 3D technology is amazing. It really adds to the story without it feeling like a stunt, y'know? We always had the intention to shoot it in 3D." TRANSLATION: I've got a backend deal on this flick. Five percent of the box office, baby! You do the math.

4. "I wanted to do a film my kids could enjoy." TRANSLATION: Can't really show them how daddy kills mobsters and sleeps with hookers on the big screen. Besides, Disney offers great vacation packages.

5. "My agent sent the script, and I could not put it down!" TRANSLATION: My agent hounded me for a month while I was holed up drunk in a hotel suite with my supermodel girlfriend down in Cabo. 

6. "I did it, frankly, because it scared me, and I love a good challenge." TRANSLATION: I'll do anything to get me out of this pigeon-holed mess I've gotten myself into.

7. "I've always been a sucker for romantic comedies." TRANSLATION: Have you seen my co-star? I've been plotting to tap that ass ever since he/she went full frontal in that arthouse flick two years ago.

8. "My friend [insert famous actor] called me up and told me he was doing it, so I was like, sure why not?" TRANSLATION: Bitches, I got so much clout in Hollywood, I can make a movie about the invention of the Q-Tip, and it'll be number one at the box office!

@TheFirstEcho


Pop Culture Rant of the Week: A Harlem Shake with a Side of Fries

Snooki lost 42 pounds according to the recent cover of US Weekly. Translation: she misplaced the 10 bottles of Jaegermeister and 14 bottles of tequila she needs to pre-game this weekend.

The track list for Beyonce's new album has leaked and features more guest stars than a season of The Love BoatFantasy Island, and Will & Grace combined.

"You guys, enough with the 'Harlem Shake' videos!" Sincerely, the Internet.

Olympus Has Fallen opens in theaters this month. It's an action thriller about terrorists who hijack the White House and hold the POTUS for ransom. That's Hollywood for you: producing how-to guides for Al-Qaeda and everyone else who hates America.

All My Children is finally coming back -- as a web series -- much to the relief of housewives, college students, and little boys who wish to grow up and become Erica Kane. That's not a cliffhanger...that's just your media player buffering.

Taylor Swift's interview in Vanity Fair...oh, I'm not even going to bother. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have already taken care of that (thanks ladies).

I finally finished the first season of House of Cards on Netflix. Casting directors, can we please get more of Corey Stoll? That's all.

@TheFirstEcho


Did You Know I Have An Online Portfolio? It's True.


You can check out a sampling of the viral content I've produced (Dancing shirtless werewolves!) along with the various wordage and copy I've written for clients (Gaga!), publications (my recent cover story with Grimm star David Giuntoli for Bello Mag), and websites (Woody Allen, nice to meet you).

Introducing The First Echo Folio...here.

@TheFirstEcho


Waking Up With Daniel Radcliffe and Lena Dunham

Having neglected some magazines that have been sitting on my bedroom floor, I spent my Saturday morning catching up on some celeb journalism...and attempting to start the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy before any trailers or images from the upcoming movie leak and further taint my imagination.

The Lena Dunham interview in Entertainment Weekly, written by Melissa Maerz, does a good job addressing all of the privileged-white-girl criticism Dunham immediately received after Girls premiered last year. However, the journalist in me would love to ask her, being that she's super self-aware and self-analytical, if she thinks she'll look back on her 20s when she's in her 30s and cringe at something's she said or written (this coming from a writer who's still adjusting to his 30s and is starting to notice things in hindsight). But something tells me the girl isn't a fan of regret and accepts everything as a life lesson. In other words, I'd love to go out drinking with her.

Then there's Daniel Radcliffe's Out feature in which he mainly talks about Kill Your Darlings, the Sundance indie in which he portrays Allen Ginsberg, smoking cigarettes, and -- get this -- partaking in some boy-on-boy action. The British lad is certainly on the right track to prolonging his career as an actor and earning more respect in the industry. And he's got such a good head on his small shoulders! Why can't all 22-year-old actors have his sense of respect, intelligence, and humor? In other words, I'd love to go out drinking with him.

But let's talk about why I'm having such a hard time getting out of bed on this gorgeous 80-degree March morning: I'm celebrating my first week sleeping in my brand-spankin' new $4,400 Sleep Number bed

How did an unemployed mofo like myself acquire such a luxury item? Flashback to two weeks ago: I attended a taping of The Ellen Degeneres Show in Burbank and happened to be in the lucky audience that received Ellen's latest giveaway (I would've killed to have won that trip to Australia, but I'm not complaining). I received a voucher for the Innovation Series Limited Edition bed (queen-sized), filled out some paperwork (God, I hope I'm not taxed up the ass for this freebie), and then immediately visited my local Sleep Number store to place my order. It came a week later -- in five boxes -- and I assembled the foam pads, dual air chambers, and sturdy base all by myself. With a wireless remote, I can activate the Firmness Control System to adjust each side of the mattress to my liking. Yes, it is as heavenly as it sounds. I'm thinking of changing my relationship status from "Single" to "In a Relationship With His Bed."

And if you're wondering, my number is 45.